Thursday, January 15, 2009

Doug Allen Does A 180: Big News!

SAG chief negotiator and executive director, Doug Allen, did a complete one hundred and eighty degrees today, reversing his pro strike authorization vote stance in favor of sending the existing AMPTP contract to the membership at large for a ratification vote.

Yeah, this is kind of a big deal. For many of us in the industry it's the first good news we've had that could signify the end of Labor issues in Hollywood for at least three years (until 2011, when the mother of all strikes will occur).

So, what brought about the 180? Well, as you know from my post earlier in the week, SAG held a board meeting early in the week, in which a majority of board members (and members of the Unite For Strength faction) had a clear agenda to bring a no confidence vote on Doug Allen. Doug's supporters managed to fillibuster this vote until Doug backed off on his Strike position. In other words, Doug Allen 180'ed to save his own ass. I will keep my sources completely confident and I will honor their wish for me to keep the real dirt off the internet for now, but Doug was going to be canned in that meeting.

So, he survived by reversing his opinion. He released this statement today on the subject...

""I proposed that the strike authorisation referendum be suspended and that management's offer be put to the membership in a ratification vote," the letter reads. "I also proposed that, before that membership ratification vote, we meet immediately with the AMPTP to determine to what extent, if any, they are willing to improve their last offer, to maximise its chances for ratification.

"I further proposed that the offer then be sent to the members with pro and con statements from national board members and that otherwise the Guild would remain neutral during any member vote during ratification. This process will give SAG members the opportunity to formally express themselves on the bargaining issues.

"This suggestion was communicated to some, but not all, board members in attendance, and apparently was rejected by some who heard it, at least in part because they believe I could not be 'trusted' to implement it. Since I am the one proposing it and since I have never acted contrary to the directives of the national board, that is not a reasonable objection."

So, WHY is he backing down now?

Well, it's pretty simple. This move is a win / win for Doug Allen. First, he satisfies the majority of SAG members who do not want to vote on a strike. It's clear that the leadership guiding negotiations has a minority opinion in SAG on handling the strike. Second, by sending the contract to the membership, he removes any blame from himself for any current or future angst. For example, if the Membership passes the vote and in three years, they are complaining about how bad their "AFTRA" contract is, Doug can say, "Hey, I did everything I could to get us to Strike for a better deal. This isn't my fault, it's UTF's fault." If the contract doesn't pass the membership, he can go back to the table and say to the AMPTP, "See, I told you they wouldn't go for it." Another Strike Vote would be right around the table, and AMPTP would have to determine if continued labor issues in a dire economy is something they want to continue doing.

Doug's a slippery little snake here, but in the end this may be the final straw that ends nearly 15 months of Labor issues that have crippled one of the top five industries in America. Hopefully, a rebound for Hollywood, helps rebound the economy. I just hope a lot of my friends who lost their jobs at the studios due to cut backs, finally can return to work.

It will be interesting to see how AMPTP comments on this, as Doug wants them to sweetened the deal a little more to push it through the memership. I also wonder if Phil Rosenblum will get a t-shirt made that says, "Doug Allen Sold Me Out".

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